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Classification: How to classify a set?

(S) So, you'd like to export or import a set that consists of multiple items? Which Commodity code do you use?

Customs Classification for sets put up for retail sale can be tricky. You wonder if you should classify each individual part of the set or classify the set as a whole.

GIR's guide the way

Formally, we would apply the General Rules for the Interpretation (GIRs) of the Harmonized System, as we would do every time we classify a product.


First up, I would, therefore, verify if your set is specifically mentioned by name across the customs tariff you look at, If you see your set under the particular HS provisions describing your set, check the relevant chapter and section notes, and the relevant Explanatory Notes (ENs) to make sure nothing is excluded.

For example, there are electric generating sets of heading 8502 or sets of kitchenware of subheadings 8215.10 and 8215.20.

GIR 3 Essential Character

If this is not your set, you may proceed to Rule 3 of the General Rules for the Interpretation (GIRs) of the Harmonized System. It should clarify.

Here we read that sets are to be classified according to the component which gives the set its essential character.

But for this to apply, we first need to determine if the product is a set at all according to customs authorities. So, answer these questions:

  • Does my set consist of at least two different articles which are, prima facie, classifiable in different headings?

  • Does my set consist of products or articles put up together to meet a particular need or carry out a specific activity?

  • Are they put up in a manner suitable for sale directly to users without repacking(e.g., in boxes or cases or on boards)?

If you can answer YES to these questions, chances are that you have a set! Now figure out which of these has the essential characteristics.


There is also GIR 6 to apply before you can determine your customs classification.

Binding Ruling

If still in doubt, consider getting a binding ruling from the authorities to help you get legal certainty.

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